Nathan Knows Courage

Walking from Chicago’s Lollapalooza, a friend and I discussed purpose. He was sharing the profound experience he had in the mountains of Peru and how this experience solidified his own purposive drive to change the world. It sounds funny to think one person could have such a seemingly naive drive and tenacity but the reality is, it really just takes one person with conviction to start a movement. And so its been said and written and seen in, within, and as a result of the trials and triumphs of some of our current thought leaders, moguls, and warriors of change. It just takes one.

Just as his words began to ignite a cascade of thoughts and questions- mostly to myself- my senses were pulled into a swallow of music. But not the fist-pumping, deep bass and beats bouncing off of the Lollapalooza grounds… no, this was something much more simple, unmastered, unrefined.

I looked up to see a young boy playing violin, just a few steps before Edward Kemeys’ massive lions guarding the Art Institute’s Lichtenstein advertisements. Suddenly, the presence of these bronze beasts were dwarfed by the height of this youth’s courage.

Walking closer, I noticed his face flinching and frowning at every missed note or squeak of his bow; perhaps low on resin or just purely hesitant. I recognized this sense of doubt, anxiety, and hyper self-awareness because I’ve often felt the same way while making music from my own piece of wood and strings. Owning it, overcoming it, committing to it… its much easier as a fleeting thought than a fulfilled action. And so I watched him play, and felt my heart warm. By the sheer act of him working through his fears… and bravely exposing his vulnerability to the folks passing by with a glance… he inspired me. He inspired us.

While Nathan shared his story- of taking the train everyday from the west side of the city, violin in hand- he was unsure of himself. Constantly fixing his cotton shirt, stretching it enough to tuck in, and consciously reminding himself to stand upright without a slouch or keep his chin up when he responded to our inquiries.

It struck me. He has no concept of his power and presence.

We thanked him for his energy and focus. Got his number with the intention to book him some gigs, left him some dough, and encouraged him to play on.

Play on no matter who hears you, no matter who recognizes your talent, no matter who says you shouldn’t. Because some things are meant to be shared no matter what. And the conviction you embody is enough to define your future, your fate, and the infinity within your fearless creativity.

from the streets,
grew the opportunity to prove unbreakable;
from the grey concrete cracks
sprouted the space to color life;
and live it
full

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